Tennis court

Murray vs Djokovic: Rivalry of the Century?

Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic – surely two of the men’s tour all-time greats. On all three surfaces – clay, hardcourt and grass – over the past 10 years, these two have battled valiantly against each other, pitting their strength, speed and stamina in a bid to be number one.


In terms of head to head matches, they have met 34 times, and Djokovic leads 24-10. This lead belies the fact that many of these match-ups have been close-run things, and Murray has often outperformed Djokovic in terms of gameplay.


Djokovic, however, has had the strength of character and mind to come through more often than not. It’s not an accident that right now in the ATP tour Rankings, Djokovic is number 1 and Murray is behind him in 2.  


What are their strengths and weaknesses? Well, it almost goes without saying that in today’s men’s game, you can’t get to (and stay at) the top without a big serve. Andy and Novak certainly have two of the best and biggest serves in the game.


Going beyond the serve, Murray’s biggest shot is his explosive backhand, and volleys (he’s surprisingly nimble for a big man at the net). Experts say his forehand is his weakest shot, and it has let him down on occasion in key matches against Djokovic. (


Novak Djokovic’s best attribute is his aggressive style of play; this allows him to cover a lot of ground and reach shots that others wouldn’t make. It’s this intense level of play that has largely led to his dominance of the modern men’s game.


Weaknesses? Djokovic is generally more comfortable at the baseline rather than at the net. This is a common feature of many in the men’s game. Since the decline of serve-and-volleying from its 70’s and 80’s heyday, most of the top players prefer to hit rallies and winners from the baseline, rather than go into the net area and volley. Djokovic is not really different in this regard; his volleying is probably his one weakness.


Wikipedia tells us that “The two are almost the same age, Murray being a week older than Djokovic”. It goes on to say that “The rivalry has become an important part of both men's careers.”


We compare the stats of each player here just to give you a flavour of what the two players are made of:



Name: Andy Murray  Novak Djokovic
Nationality: British  Serbian
Age:   29   29
Height: 6ft 3in 6ft 2in
Turned pro: 2005  2003
Career titles: 37 65  
Grand Slams:  12
Career Record:  585 wins/171 losses 730/149 
Coach:  Ivan Lendl Boris Becker
Olympic Best: Gold – 2012  Bronze – 2008
Head-to-Head: 10    24
Prize Money: $47m  $101m
Current World Ranking: 2     1
Highest World Ranking: 2     1



So you can see that on paper, Djokovic has the more impressive stats. He’s won more games, more titles, and more money than Murray. On a match day at a Grand Slam, you might imagine that most of the money would be on Novak. But that’s not necessarily true. The bookies’ odds often reflects Murray’s real rivalry with Djokovic with very competitive odds for a Murray win.


This is what makes tennis such a brilliant game – any player, on their day, can beat any of the top players. This is why millions tune in to watch Wimbledon every year, and why Murray-Djokovic is always such a thrilling match.


Murray probably won’t catch up Djokovic in terms of career titles and matches, but in the big games, he will assuredly pull out the big shots, and gives us something to cheer about!